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A Historic Preservation & Cultural Education Initiative -  Nanto City, Japan
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Taketombo  x  RISD:  A Social Innovation Initiative:
Old Hokuriku Bank Building Adaptive Reuse Design

Architecture that marks an important milestone in Inami’s town development

Japan, July 5, 2019.  Taketombo Corporation announces its first social innovation initiative, in partnership with top design university Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) from the United States.   RISD Professor Wolfgang Max Rudorf will lead the Advanced Adaptive Reuse Design Studio “Reimagining the Old Hokuriku Bank Building” in Spring of 2020.  Through cultural immersion and design research, 12 advanced-level students specializing in Interior Architecture and Adaptive Re-use will travel to Japan with Mr. Rudorf, to evaluate the cultural and historic importance of Old Hokuriku Bank Building (circa 1924, Taisho Period) and explore design solutions for architectural adaptive re-use.  3D scanning technology will be utilized as part of the site and building survey as there is almost no surviving architectural documents.

Taketombo aims to leverage overseas creative talents for fresh ideas, to promote cultural sustainable design practices and take Japan’s rural town revitalization projects to a global level.  It is also our intention to bring international attention to rural towns of Japan, to divert investments from tourist-swamped Tokyo and Kyoto, and reveal areas with pressing social challenges outside of the metropolitan vicinity.


Inami is a little-known historic town in Toyama prefecture with 250 years of wood carving history and current home to 100+ professional wood carvers.  Our subject for design research, Old-Hokuriku Bank building, locates in Inami.  As the first Western-style reinforced-concrete building in the area, Old Hokuriku Bank serves as a marker of prosperity for Inami since pre-war times.  
In 1987, when Hokuriku Bank relocated to a new facility and donated the existing building to the town, Inami Art Association assumed and restored the old building with public donations, converting it into Inami Art Museum. It has since been managed by Inami Art Association as a free museum for local artists’ exhibitions and writers’ cultural events.  In 2004, Nanto City government took over the ownership and has been subsidizing the museum operation.  However, government ownership will cease by the end of 2019.  Currently, Inami Art Association members, with an average age of 70, are all actively producing exquisite wood work.  However, managing and maintaining exhibitions have become challenging.  

On November 1, Kitanihon Shimbun (Northern Japan Newspaper) issued an article announcing Nanto City government’s plan to sell the Inami Art Museum / Old-Hokuriku Bank building, due to the high cost in seismic retro-fitting. Up-keeping a 90+ year-old building has become a financial burden for the local government.  The aging structure and lack in seismic reinforcement also poses life-safety concerns.

As Nanto City government intends to cease ownership of the building by the end of 2019, Inami Art Association will lose its museum space. Finding undertakers to assume the financial responsibility in retrofitting and maintenance will be challenging. The building may face the fate of demolition.

When the announcement was made public, various local groups voiced their disagreement due to the building’s cultural significance to Inami town history.  Demolition poses negative effect to the overall historic district’s landscape with its central location on the historic main street of Yokamachidori.
Mayor Mikio Tanaka of Nanto City has immediately taken notice of public opinion.  In December of 2018, upon Taketombo’s proposal in engaging foreign design study groups to explore potential for adaptive re-use, Mr. Mayor agreed to postpone public bidding to allow concerned groups to conduct due diligence.  Nanto City government and relevant local organizations are supporting exploration for innovative and sustainable solutions so that the building could be preserved.  The public could also hold proper hearings to collect feedback and reach a consensus as soon as possible.


Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is a world-renowned art and design university in the United States.  Aside from accredited degree programs, it has extensive experience in administering  international travel design programs for its students, including Greater Europe, Seoul, Japan, and Morocco to name a few.  The institution equips its students with global viewpoints and pushes the boundary of design in addressing global, social and cultural challenges.

The Department of Interior Architecture will lead an Advanced Studio  “Reimagining the Old Hokuriku Bank” where the design group will spend about 1 week in Nanto City for cultural deep-dive and conduct building survey utilizing 3D scanning technology (as building records are lost or destroyed).  The group will present design concepts with careful consideration given to cultural relevancy and sustainability.  Our objective is to:
 •  Promote Adaptive Re-Use as a professional and sustainable design discipline
 •  Raise awareness in the importance of cultural asset preservation
 •  Spark inspiring dialogues on possibilities in re-purposing historic building
 •  Create new activities in energizing Inami, build township and town pride

This also serves as a unique opportunity for next generation design professionals to drive positive social impact through cultural immersion and creative thinking in a real-time case.


TAKETOMBO is a "Craft Incubation" residency program based in Japan.  We instigate social innovation activation and provide access to authentic Japanese craft experiences from their origins or historic source.  
This unique travel experience program is named after a traditional propeller toy “TA-KE-TOM-BO”, hand-made in wood or bamboo, dated as far back to the Nara or Heian period (8th century).  Our goal is to empower traditional crafts and let them take flight in the 21st century.

Established in 2018, Taketombo is a new social innovation start-up that connects international creative professionals (architects, product, fashion designers, ceramists, artists, photographers, cultural writers and researchers) to Japan rural craft towns and artisans. Through travel residency and hands-on projects, we aim to bridge the gap between global Creative Thinkers and Japan Makers, challenge modern day, tech-dependent designers to deep-dive into tactile and material experiences; all the while, instigates new sustainable creative business opportunity in declining rural craft towns.  

Originally from New York, founder Ms. Mikki Tam, is a Brand Designer and Interior Architect with professional experience in New York, Los Angeles, Shanghai and Tokyo working with Fortune 500 companies.  Ms. Tam currently is based in Japan dedicating her time in revitalization activities in rural craft towns throughout Japan.   Inami is Taketombo’s first creative intervention.
Taketombo welcomes new partnership with individuals or organizations that shares same work ethics and social responsible vision.  For more information, visit


For media inquires, please contact:
Ms. Mikki Tam, Founder of Taketombo
+81 70 4280 4145

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